A Brit couple has become seriously ill with Covid-19 after their “dream holiday” turned into a cruise ship “nightmare”.
Amputee John Sandford and partner Helen, both 66, have been left bed-ridden in their home in North Lanarkshire, Scotland with crippling Covid symptoms.
The pair only recently returned from their dream holiday on board MSC Virtuosa and are now demanding a full refund over the “scary” experience.
They claim they did not feel safe before it emerged there were several positive cases on board, the Daily Record reports.
Vulnerable John, who lost his right leg to diabetes, said: “We went straight home from the port and have been in our beds since.
“It’s been non stop feeling ill with high temperatures and a nasty cough. I still feel terrible and my wife is really not well.
“We don’t feel we were well protected at all. It’s been a nightmare.”
Another Virtuosa passenger, former navy veteran Wilf Broyden, 81, lost his battle with Covid last Sunday, with his heartbroken family believing he contracted it on the seven-day cruise around the British Isles.
John, who boarded the same cruise ship just a few days earlier, said: “When we got on it was very lax with mask-wearing and it was basically a free for all at the buffet.
“We got on at Greenock but the day after the passengers came on from Southampton, that’s when things got really scary.
“We went up for breakfast and there was a huge queue from the restaurant all congregating in a corridor. We turned and went back to the room and ordered room service.”
John and Helen learned they had Covid the day before they were due to disembark.
He said: “We were feeling a wee bit off and got a letter to say there had been Covid on the ship and we needed to go to get a test.
“We tested positive and they told us to isolate. We were in a disabled room because I’m in a wheelchair but they asked us to go to another isolation zone with no windows.
“We demanded to go straight back to the room where we stayed until we were taken off and our health deteriorated from there.
“I think they were trying to keep it quiet there was Covid on the ship.
“I phoned MSC when I was well enough to tell them we wanted a refund and was told to contact the travel agent. That was the end of the story.”
The family of Wilf have also hit out at the cruise ship operator.
MSC said it was “devastated” to learn of Wilf’s death and said all members of his party had tested negative, in line with their protocols, upon boarding the ship and said it had a string of strict procedures were in place to protect customers.
Of the Sandford’s case, a spokesman said: “We are sorry to hear about the disappointing cruise experience for Mr and Mrs Sandford and we are in touch with them to understand their concerns better.
“We completely understand their frustration at testing positive, but we had to take an appropriate course of action in line with our protocol procedures to protect them, other guests, crew and the communities we call.
“Unfortunately, the dramatically rising Covid rates ashore in the UK have been reflected albeit in a less dramatic way for our cruises in UK waters with increased numbers of cases identified mainly at embarkation and a relatively small number on board.
“However, thanks to our industry-leading protocol we have been able to effectively manage these cases and complete our cruise season safely in the UK.”